Kenya to wait longer as ‘prodigal son’ Bitok extends stay in Rwanda


Kenya to wait longer as ‘prodigal son’ Bitok extends stay in Rwanda
Outgoing Rwanda coach Paul Bitok instructs his charges against Kenya during their Women's Under 23 African Nations volleyball champions at Safaricom Gymnasium stadium Kasarani on October 27, 2016. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha/Citizen

In Summary

  • As Kenya’s volleyball fraternity was preparing to hand a befitting welcome to ‘prodigal son’ Paul Bitok who last month announced plans to return home after illustrious ten-year coaching career with Rwandan national teams, the East Africa’s tiny country sports ministry had other plans.
  • The former Kenya men’s team captain has agreed to extend his stay with Rwanda after the ministry came again calling with a one-year deal already on the table.

As Kenya’s volleyball fraternity was preparing to hand a befitting welcome to ‘prodigal son’ Paul Bitok who last month announced plans to return home after illustrious ten-year coaching career with Rwandan national teams, the East Africa’s tiny country sports ministry had other plans.

The former Kenya men’s team captain has agreed to extend his stay with Rwanda after the ministry came again calling with a one-year deal already on the table.

On Tuesday, the former KCB player proved why Kenya should worry about his stay in Rwanda after he led his charges in eliminating his mother land out of the ongoing All African Games qualifiers.

The celebrated Kenyan coach who became the first and only Kenyan male player to play professional volleyball outside the country when he signed with Tunisia side Etiole Sportiff in 1998, has been at the helm of Rwandese volleyball for a decade, helping them to rise and become one of the best in Africa across all categories.

The 48-year- old was set to return home next month with Kenya Volleyball Federation president Waithaka Kioni terming his comeback as “a massive shot in the arm” to the Kenyan volleyball and the new development is a bitter pill to swallow for Kenyan fans.

“Yes I will be extending my association with Rwanda after the government persuaded me to guide the team in the upcoming competitions and it was difficult to turn them down because of my good relationship with them,” the former KCB player told Citizen Digital in Kasarani during the ongoing All African Games qualifiers.

Bitok was appointed in 2010 as head coach of the men’s senior team, but also handled other national teams at different levels in different regional and international competitions, and will be guiding both the men and women’s teams in this year’s World Championships in Germany which runs from June 28 to July 7. Rwanda is the only country to qualify for both teams.

“Having helped the two teams to qualify for the world championship, the ministry told me my work was not yet done with them,” he told.

In his reflection about Kenyan volleyball, the tactician who has previously coached the national women’s team questioned the growth of the game since he left the country in 2010.

“In my opinion, the game in Kenya needs some new techniques because of late we have stagnated and we must recover our slowly fading glory,” he added.

Bitok who has helped Rwanda finish fourth at the 2011 All Africa Games in (Mozambique) and the 2015 edition held in (Congo Brazzaville) is eyeing this year’s ticket at the expense of his native team Kenya.

 

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Story By Stanley Mativo
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